Lice & Mites

Lice are particularly common in the winter when horses often group together more, they tend to favor native breeds with their thick winter coats which means the lice can thrive. The irritation they cause means the horse can be seen to be biting themselves and scratching on items such as fencing, stables etc.
There are two different types of lice:
  • Chewing lice – These feed on skin debris
  • Sucking Lice – Feed on blood and tissue fluid.
Both are mainly spread by direct contact from one horse to another but can also be spread by sharing rugs and grooming equipment which is known as indirect contact. In more severe cases lice can even cause weight loss and anaemia which would require veterinary attention.
Mites are tiny parasites which live on the horses skin and belong in the same family group as tick. They are commonly found in the horses feathers and are called Chorioptes equi which feed on horses skin causing intense itching.